Posted in Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 4 -“Remember the New Covenant, Even the Book of Mormon”

1. Joseph Smith’s preparation to receive and translate the Book of Mormon

JS-H 1:27 I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September

‘From this time until the twenty-first of September, 1823, Joseph continued, as usual, to labor with his father, and nothing during this interval occurred of very great importance—though he suffered every kind of opposition and persecution from the different orders of religionists.
The third harvest time had now arrived since we opened our new farm, and all our sons were actively employed in assisting their father to cut down the grain and store it away in order for winter.’ (The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, SF Proctor and MJ Proctor, [SLC: Bookcraft, 1996], 101)
JS-H 1:28 Native cheery temperament

‘When Joseph warned the Saints against mortal imperfections, he did not raise himself above them, and they loved him for it. He cautioned a group of Saints newly arrived in Nauvoo against the tendency to be dissatisfied if everything was not done perfectly right. “He said he was but a man and they must not expect him to be perfect,” an associate recorded. “If they expected perfection from him, he should expect it from them, but if they would bear with his infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, he would likewise bear with their infirmities” (The Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2, Journal, 1832–1842, ed. Dean C. Jessee [1992], 489).

Joseph had a “native cheery temperament”  JS—H 1:28 He delighted in the society of his friends. “He would play with the people,” one acquaintance recalled, “and he was always cheerful and happy” (Rachel Ridgeway Grant, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal 16 [Dec. 1905]: 551). He loved little children and often frolicked with them in a manner shocking to some accustomed to the exaggerated sobriety of other ministers. These warm, human qualities caused some to deny Joseph’s prophetic role, but they endeared him to many who knew him. Our records contain numerous adoring tributes like that of an acquaintance who said, “The love the saints had for him was inexpressible” (Mary Alice Cannon Lambert, Young Woman’s Journal, 16:554).

Despite his familiar and friendly style, the Prophet Joseph Smith was resolute in doing his duty. During a meeting to consider disciplining a man who had rejected the counsel of the Presidency and the Twelve, he declared: “The Saints need not think because I am familiar with them and am playful and cheerful, that I am ignorant of what is going on. Iniquity of any kind cannot be sustained in the Church, and it will not fare well where I am; for I am determined while I do lead the Church, to lead it right” (History of the Church,5:411). On another occasion he wrote, “I am a lover of the cause of Christ and of virtue chastity and an upright steady course of conduct & a holy walk, I despise a hypocrite or a covenant breaker” (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee [1984], 246).’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 1996)

JS-H 1:33-35 First appearance of Moroni

‘In 1822, Joseph began helping his older brother Alvin build a new frame house for the family. By September of 1823, it was two stories high but without a roof. The family continued to live in their small log house.

Here late in the evening on Sunday, 21 September 1823, seventeen-year-old Joseph retired for the night. Concerned about his standing before the Lord, he earnestly prayed for forgiveness of his sins. He was confident that he would again receive a divine manifestation. Suddenly his room filled with light and a heavenly messenger stood by his bedside in partial fulfillment of the great prophecy of John the Apostle (see Revelation 14:6–7).’ (Church History in the Fulness of Time Institute Manual)

malm-moroni-appears

2. The miracle of the Book of Mormon’s preservation

JS-H 1:60 Persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me

‘After bringing home the plates, Joseph now commenced work with his father on the farm in order to be as near as possible the treasure that was committed to his care.
Soon after this, he came in from work one afternoon, and after remaining a short time, he put on his greatcoat and left the house. I was engaged at the time in an upper room in preparing some oilcloths for painting. When he returned, he requested me to come downstairs. I told him that I could not leave my work just then, yet upon his urgent request, I finally concluded to go down and see what he wanted, upon which he handed me the breastplate spoken of in his history.
It was wrapped in a thin muslin handkerchief, so thin that I could see the glistening metal and ascertain its proportions without any difficulty.
It was concave on one side and convex on the other, and extended from the neck downwards as far as the center of the stomach of a man of extraordinary size. It had four straps of the same material for the purpose of fastening it to the breast, two of which ran back to go over the shoulders, and the other two were designed to fasten to the hips. They were just the width of two of my fingers (for I measured them), and they had holes in the end of them to be convenient in fastening.
The whole plate was worth at least five hundred dollars. After I had examined it, Joseph placed it in the chest with the Urim and Thummim.
Shortly after this circumstance, Joseph came to the house in great haste and inquired if there had been a company of men there. I told him no one had come to the house since he left. He then said that a mob would be there that night, if not before, to search for the record, and that it must be removed immediately.
Soon after, one Mr. Braman came from the neighboring village of Livonia, a German man in whom we reposed much confidence and who was well worthy of the same. Joseph told him his apprehensions of a mob being there that night and that they must prepare themselves to drive them away; but the first thing to be attended to was to secrete the record and breastplate.
It was resolved that a portion of the hearth should be taken up and the plates and breastplate should be buried under the same, and then the hearth relaid to prevent suspicion.
This was carefully and speedily done, but the hearth was scarcely relaid when a large company of armed men came rushing up to the house. Joseph threw the door open and, taking a hint from the stratagem of his Grandfather Mack, hallooed as if he had a legion at hand, giving the word of command with great importance. At the same time, the males that belonged to the house, from the father down to little Carlos, ran out with such vehemence upon the mob that it struck them with terror and dismay, and they fled before our little Spartan band away into the woods, where they dispersed themselves to their several homes.
We had but a few days rest, however, before Joseph received another intimation of the approach of a mob and the necessity of removing the record and breastplate again from their hiding place. Consequently, Joseph took them out of the box in which they had been placed, wrapped them in clothes, carried them across the road to a cooper’s shop, and laid them in a quantity of flax which was stowed in the shop loft. He then nailed up the box as before and tore up the floor and put the box under it.
As soon as it was dark, the mob came and ransacked the place, but did not come into the house. After making a satisfactory search, they went away.
The next morning we found the floor of the cooper’s shop taken up and the wooden box which was put under it split to pieces.
In a few days we learned the cause of this last move and why their curiosity had led them in the direction of the cooper’s shop. A young woman, who was a sister to Willard Chase, had found a green glass through which she could see many wonderful things, and among the rest of her discoveries, she said she had found out the exact place where “Joe Smith kept his gold bible.” And so in pursuance to her directions, they gathered their forces and laid siege to the cooper shop, but went away disappointed.
This did not shake their confidence in Miss Chase, for they still went from place to place by her suggestion, determined to get possession of the object of their research.’ (The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, SF Proctor and MJ Proctor, [SLC: Bookcraft, 1996], 148-151)
the-brass-plates

3. Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

‘The three men chosen as witnesses of the Book of Mormon were Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Their written ‘Testimony of Three Witnesses’ has been included in all of the almost 100 million copies of the Book of Mormon the Church has published since 1830. These witnesses solemnly testify that they “have seen the plates which contain this record” and “the engravings which are upon the plates.” They witness that these writings “have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us.”

…People who deny the possibility of supernatural beings may reject this remarkable testimony, but people who are open to believe in miraculous experiences should find it compelling. The solemn written testimony of three witnesses to what they saw and heard-two of them simultaneously and the third almost immediately thereafter-is entitled to great weight.

…Measured against all…possible objections, the testimony of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon stands forth in great strength. Each of the three had ample reason and opportunity to renounce his testimony if it had been false, or to equivocate on details if any had been inaccurate. As is well known, because of disagreements or jealousies involving other leaders of the Church, each one of these three witnesses was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by about eight years after the publication of their testimony. All three went their separate ways, with no common interest to support a collusive effort. Yet to the end of their lives-periods ranging from 12 to 50 years after their excommunications-not one of these witnesses deviated from his published testimony or said anything that cast any shadow on its truthfulness.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “The Witness: Martin Harris,” Ensign, May 1999, 35-36)

doc-0628-1-1830s-oliver-cowdery-david-whitmer-martin-harris

4. Our duty to “remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon”

D&C 84:55 The whole church under condemnation

“Some of the early missionaries, on returning home, were reproved by the Lord in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants because they had treated lightly the Book of Mormon. As a result, their minds had been darkened. The Lord said that this kind of treatment of the Book of Mormon brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all of the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, ‘And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.’ (See D&C 84:54–57.) Are we still under that condemnation? …

“… Grave consequences hang on our response to the Book of Mormon. ‘Those who receive it,’ said the Lord, ‘in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;

“‘But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation—

“‘For the Lord God has spoken it.’ (D&C 20:14–16.)

“Is the Book of Mormon true? Yes.

“Who is it for? Us.

“What is its purpose? To bring men to Christ.

“How does it do this? By testifying of Christ and revealing his enemies.

“How are we to use it? We are to get a testimony of it, we are to teach from it, we are to hold it up as a standard and ‘hiss it forth.’

“Have we been doing this? Not as we should, nor as we must.

“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.

“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life.” (Ezra Taft Benson, In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, pp. 96–97; or Ensign,May 1975, p. 65.)

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